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Title:Violence against women in the novels of Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor
Author(s):Kohn, Mary Ellen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Porqueras-Mayo, Alberto
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Women's Studies
Abstract:Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor, writer of the Spanish Baroque "novela corta", (Novelas amorosas y ejemplares, 1637, and Desenganos amorosos, 1647) has been called a feminist by most scholars who study her work. This dissertation focusses on the author's thematic use of violence against women as a means of illustrating her feminist messages to the women of her time. The violent content of her work has the purpose of warning women about the cruel misogyny of men.
The dissertation begins with preliminary chapters which address the need for this study, existing scholarship on Zayas (previous studies on Zayas have focussed on her feminism or on the presence of violence in her novels, but none has taken a feminist approach to analysis of the violent content), and general considerations on the author, the genre, and violence in the society and literature of seventeenth-century Spain.
The three main chapters of the thesis are structured around the various types of violence found in Zayas "novellas". Two of these contain scenes of attempted rape, averted by the would-be victims through their rejection of traditional female roles.
Women are murdered by men in five tales and the sadistic methods of murder Zayas chooses for her male characters to commit assist her in portraying this act as the ultimate in misogyny.
In the last of the main chapters, the heroines of five other stories escape violence at the hands of men. They survive stabbings, beatings, and other brutal tortures and in the end turn to Zayas' favorite solution (in essence, the only solution for women of the time) for women: they enter convents.
Maria de Zayas' thematic use of violence against women underscores her feminist ideas. She criticizes the males of her society as cruel misogynists and encourages women to be cautious, to use whatever they can to escape this treatment and to turn to solidarity with other women (in the form of the convent).
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Kohn, Mary Ellen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9416386
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9416386

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